An initial analysis of E-procurement search behaviour

Mackie, Stuart and Azzopardi, Leif and Moshfeghi, Yashar (2021) An initial analysis of E-procurement search behaviour. In: iConference 2022, 2022-02-28 - 2022-03-04, Virtual/Online. (In Press)

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Abstract

Procurement or tender search is where suppliers seek opportunities for providing goods, works or services that authorities, organisations and businesses require. Such opportunities are listed as procurement contract notices for which suppliers can submit tenders. Typically, an E-Procurement system is used to help find and carry out one or more of the stages involved in the procurement process (from finding potential opportunities, bidding on such opportunities, to delivering the goods, works or services, i.e. find, win, deliver). Such systems are crucial in enabling suppliers to efficiently search through the available listings of procurement contract notices listed across various public and commercial portals. However, little research has investigated how end-users search for such opportunities. In this paper, we perform a descriptive analysis of the professional search behaviours of suppliers using a bespoke e-procurement system. Our analysis is based on a sub-sample of six months of search log interaction data. First, we provide an overview of the usage patterns of our sample of users before investigating how the behaviour of searchers is influenced by the type of search form used (quick vs advanced), user expertise (new vs experienced), and the domain of the procurement notices (General, Defence, Medical, etc.). Our findings highlight that more experienced searchers appear to be more strategic than less experienced searchers and that searchers behave differently depending on the domain in terms of querying and assessing behaviours. This analysis suggests that e-procurement search engines need to be mindful of the differences across searchers and between domains when designing a system to help support their users.